Every time someone asks you to join a book club, you probably give the same canned response: I don’t have time to read. Actually you do, but it will look different from before. We are all working with the same 24 hours in a day, so it’s time to get creative. Let’s talk about the benefits of reading with your ears and I’ll offer several audiobook recommendations in case you’ve never listened to your reading before.
Audiobooks are the answer to questions you didn’t even know you had.
I cannot stress audiobooks enough for anyone who thinks they don’t have time to read as much as they want to. I started listening to audiobooks about 3 years ago and will never turn back. In the past few years, I have listened to a total of 57 audiobooks at the time of this post.
When I teach a book, I like to re-read it at least once in its written form during the semester I am teaching it. I then listen to it once on audio. Most of what I listen to for pleasure is nonfiction. I’ve only listened to a handful of fiction books because I find it hard to immerse myself in the world completely while I drive unless I am taking a long road trip.
If you’re thinking, that’s great, but I don’t have a long commute to work – hold that thought. Here is a list of everywhere I listen to audiobooks:
- Taking a walk
- On a run
- Doing the dishes
- In the shower/bath
- Folding laundry
- At the gym
- On the pilates reformer
- Lifting weights
- Doing hair and makeup
- While shaving (guys)
- Driving to the store
- On the commute to work
- Any and every long road trip
It’s not rocket science. I try to read a certain amount of pages everyday, and while I would prefer this to be uninterrupted immersion reading, that’s just not realistic for me or anyone else out there.
Audiobooks are a great solution
Some books are read ridiculously slowly (they buy into the idea that our brains listen and process information slower than we read, etc.). I happen to love fast talkers because they keep me on my toes and the same goes for audiobooks. I typically listen at 1.25X-1.5X the normal speed that a book is read. I’ve done 2X, but it’s not the norm for me. I want to make sure I can retain what I’m hearing.
Here are my Audiobook Recommendations
- Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
- Hey, Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland
- The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (and narrated by Brian Cranston)
I don’t typically enjoy listening to fiction unless I can read along at the same time. This is something I do fairly often, especially when I’m tired. The above books are excellent listens. I was transported to their worlds and believe these would be great first listens if you’re new to audiobooks.
- Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
- Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo
- Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- The Well Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer
I absolutely love listening to non-fiction. I don’t ever have to be in the mood like when I listen to fiction. I always listen while I clean my house and can get a few minutes and several pages read while I prepare dinner. I typically make progress in an audiobook almost every day of the week.
Daniel Goleman’s books on different kinds of intelligence:
- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ
- Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships
- Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything
- Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence
I really enjoyed Daniel Goleman’s works. I listened to all of these while driving and was engrossed by the research and insight they synthesized. They teach you a lot about the mind, emotions, and social interaction in leadership positions and otherwise. If you check them out, let me know what you think.
Authors Reading Their Own Books
My next audiobook recommendation is to find and listen to authors read their own books. There is nothing like hearing the writer speak their words into existence for your mind. You hear their emotion so clearly you can feel it, and I often laugh and cry right along with them.
And what can be even cooler than authors reading their own work is that often well-known actors will often perform works of fiction. Bryan Cranston is the voice reading The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Basically it’s like Walter White is leading troops in Vietnam. Amazing.
For the parents in the room, I listen to audiobooks with my son and the sound of the reading soothes him. He is starting to talk back to the recording but still often just curiously listens. This should not replace reading out loud to your child because they need that real life interaction with you for emotional development, but it can definitely supplement your reading time.
Okay, okay, so you are probably on board with listening while you live your life and are now wondering how to get your ears on audiobooks. Walter J. Ong expands on the psychodynamics of orality – the lost art of listening in our visually saturated culture. Contrary to what most people think, the reading mind is evolving, and in a constant flux of intellectual becoming. It is up to us to navigate this evolution – after all, some of this territory is uncharted. We are processing information on a scale never imagined.
Do you have a favorite audiobook recommendations? What are your favorite listens? Where do you listen to audiobooks? Let me know with a comment. You might also like Where to Find Cheap and Free Audiobooks Online. There are a few free alternatives, but my go-to is Audible because the quality is consistent. If you want to give it a try, you’ll get a free audiobook. Click here.
26 thoughts on “Reading With Your Ears – Audiobook Recommendations”
This is indeed a GREAT way to get through more books. I’ve listened to well over 100 books this way and there are several that I listen to on a regular basis.
Which books are your top listens? I would love to know what you recommend.
I am currently on my third time through listening to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. I’ve been through Primal Leadership and a couple of Malcolm Gladwell books. I spend 2 hours/day commuting and audio books and podcasts are the only way I get through it.
So worth it. I definitely want to listen to LOTR on Audio now. Thanks for the recommendation!
My pleasure. Thanks for the great blog
Thanks for writing this! I’m an Audible fanatic and I appreciate the recommendations. Bauer’s book is a personal favorite.
Yes! At this point I cannot commute without a book. It’s only 25 minutes each way, but having a story to listen to makes the time worthwhile. I’ve listened to some serious gems this way. I “reread” Anathem by Neal Stephenson and the adventure came through so vibrantly. I discovered the world of The Gentleman Bastards via audio with The Lies of Locke Lamora and it is amazeballs. (For real! We went out and bought it so that we could have it when my ability to get different books from the library gapped on us.) I am a tremendous advocate of audiobooks!
I will check out those titles! Thanks! I think my favorite work of fiction on audio so far is On the Road by Cormac McCarthy. And I feel you on the 25 minute drive- I will listen even when it’s a 5 or 10 minute drive to the store. It adds up 🙂
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Absolutely love audiobooks! Great to listen to while at the gym, too! Currently listening to The Aghan by Frederick Forsyth.
Agreed! Do you use Audible or something else to find yours?
Yes! This one a friend lent to me. It keeps me connected to the military. 🙂
so audios come at different speeds?
I’ve never used an audiobook but I love the sound of it. I must check them out sometime.
Definitely. Thanks for stopping by!
I love the idea of listening to an audio book while running – I may just try that.
Let me know if you do!
I love audiobooks. And I do “read” them everywhere. It’s almost scary how much money I’ve spent over the last five or six years (yes, I know I can check them out, but I belong to Audible, so there is a never ending supply 🙂 ).
Audible is so worth it, in my opinion. Do you have any favorites that stick out to you?
Great list of books! I’m going to have to put these on my list. Thanks for sharing!
This has been on my list of things to do and just haven’t gotten around to.(Other than a few long road trips.) I always wish I had more time for reading though so this would be a great new resolution. You’ve not only reminded to put this at the top of my list but convinced me of how easy it will be to incorporate it into my life.
I just got into audiobook recently. I love to listen to them when I am doing housework or knitting. (How basic do I sound right now?!?) They really are a great way to get through my reading list.
I am SO in love with audiobooks. That’s how 90% of my reading happens these days; reading physical books is reserved for the last half hour before bed. The rest of the time it’s audiobooks! I listen to them whenever I’m in the car or on the bus for any reason, I listen while I work out at the gym, and I often listen while I work because I’m a graphic designer and a lot of my job is drawing – which leaves my ears free to listen! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who usually listens to books at 1.25 or 1.5 speed, too. Slow narration drives me up the wall.
I just finished “The Thirteenth Tale” and it is so gorgeously narrated. I’d recommend it for that alone.
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